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15 suspended over fixing claims

Freetown – Football authorities in Sierra Leone have indefinitely suspended four national team players, including captain Ibrahim Kargbo, three referees and eight other officials on allegations of match-fixing.

Three of the players had been called up to play in Saturday’s African Nations Cup qualifier against Seychelles in Freetown.

Sierra Leone's captain Ibrahim Kargbo, left, is among those to have been suspended over fixing claims involving the outcome of an African Nations Cup qualifier against SA. Credit: AFP

In a press release jointly signed by sports minister Paul Kamara and Sierra Leone Football Association president Isha Johansen, the 15 are alleged to have been involved in fixing the outcome of a Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa in 2008 which ended in a goalless draw.

The release says the two institutions received “credible and tangible information” on the alleged involvement of the group in match-fixing and that the players will have nothing to do with the weekend fixture.

Kargbo had last season been playing club football in Belgium but was most recently on trial at Swindon Town in England.

The other players implicated are defender Ibrahim Koroma, who plays at Varbarg in Sweden; Samuel Barlay, who plays in Azerbaijan and goalkeeper Christian Caulker who plays for local side FC Kallon.

The suspended officials include football administrator, Rodney Michael who was controversially disqualified from running for FA president in August last year on allegations that he had links to a sports-betting company.

Michael said he was “in total shock” and referred to it as “a political interference into the running of football”.

Speaking to Reuters from London, he called the suspension “a witch-hunt because I am leading a crusade for the FA to hold its annual congress which is stated in the constitution to (be held) not later than August this year”. – Reuters

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